Giving the stink eye to the stink bug

Published 5:36 pm Friday, October 9, 2015

If it kills me, and it just might, I’m going to find a way to rid these shores of Halyomorpha Halys, otherwise known as ‘those damned stink bugs.’

And while I’m on this soap box, let me shake my bony finger and also declare, “See what happens when you buy all this cheap crap from China?” Because that’s how these pests, now savaging American agricultural crops year-round, got here: hitching a ride in a packing crate on a trip across the ocean. They can live for a year, create four generations in that time, do unbelievable damage and, I’m sorry, Wikipedia, but they don’t “smell like coriander.” They smell like something often blamed on the family dog.

If you’re like me, you see them hanging around your front door, where the sun is strongest, just waiting for you to crack it open and dash out, prompting dozens to buzz inside and set up shop, gathering up high in corners, behind picture frames and Lord help me if this isn’t true, inside a ‘hoody’ tucked away in my chest of drawers. People, do you understand the horror of pulling on a hoody just to realize, too late, that it is infested with stink bugs? Did you know that this particular nightmare will leave you twitching and darting your hands through your hair for a solid week? Did you know that in one home, it has been reported that 29,000 were found, overwintering?

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I’m sorry, but that would have the same effect on me as learning a poltergeist had inhabited my home: I’d walk. Let the bank have it, ruin my credit, I don’t care, I ain’t living with 29,000 stink bugs. Makes no difference if that house is tented, fumigated, and given a Karen Silkwood scrub down. I’m gone, baby, gone.

Because here’s the deal: you can never, ever, get them all out. I learned that the hard way. Last fall, on the first crisp night that one could sleep with the windows open (in our case, French doors leading from bedroom onto a back deck) with no fear of mosquitos, we forgot to close those doors as we dressed and got on with our day. Downstairs, hours later around 6 p.m., Paul and I were watching the TV and, noticing the chill in the air, I realized the doors upstairs had been left cracked open, and so popped up to close them. Standing in the threshold of the door I will never forget seeing the walls simply covered with these creatures. It was like a horror movie.


We spent at least two hours sweeping them into whatever receptacles we could find and it is a mercy that they are clumsy and drop with a thud inside them, allowing enough time to pitch them over the rail or flush down the toilet. Tentatively drawing back my tea-stained, vintage rose pattern Pottery Barn linen drapes, I shrieked to find at least a hundred more burrowed into the folds on the underside and releasing their own WMD odors. So goodbye, tea-stained vintage rose Pottery Barn drapes. At least burning you killed the bugs as well.

I am someone who refuses to spray insecticide in or around my home. I don’t want to breathe that stuff or subject our animals to it, either. Besides, nothing really works on them. There simply has to be a natural prey for these buggers. For example, I use a product called ‘Fly Predators’ to eat fly larva around my barn, and it works wonderfully – come into my barn mid-summer and regardless that the manure pile is quite close – to see for yourself.

And Paul got rid of Japanese Beetles by using an organic cedar-infused spray. It rendered them useless, our roses were saved and no poison was pumped into our habitat. So surely there must be some other type of bug or animal who really enjoys the taste of ‘coriander’ and would love to munch them all up. For example, our local towns now use goats most effectively to handle kudzu. For them, it’s like the yeast rolls at Golden Corral – they can’t get enough.

But even a goat grosses out over stink bugs.

So come on, America! Didn’t we put a man on the moon and have now proved there is water on Mars? We have bombs that can destroy the world and smart phones that can instantly download videos of puppies. Surely we can do this. And holy moly, just think of the gazillions of dollars that stand to be earned with whomever comes up with the solution. I firmly believe Mother Nature, in her perfect balance, created a natural prey for everything in the food chain and hopefully, that prey isn’t one of the 10,000 to 100,000 extinctions of species we manage to decimate each year.

So I appeal to all those with deep pockets to fund this project: Bill Gates, Richard Branson, please help us. Donald Trump, forget the presidency. Dedicate yourself to true community service and dive in. It’s only a matter of time before they try to overwinter in your hair.